If there is a cruise that can covert the diehard sun-and-sand person to cruising, it is definitely Alaska. The sheer vastness of Alaska and its wilderness will blow you away.
Besides being a great choice to introduce your kids to nature and science, this is one of the most scenically spectacular sea voyages you can take. An Alaska cruise brings out the inner child in you. You find yourself scurrying to the starboard side to catch whales “breaching” (jumping high out of the water), and squealing at the LOUD “slap” as they come back down.
Standing shoulder to shoulder at the railing to watch a huge chunk of ice "calving" (breaking off from the main glacier into the water) can be a life-changing experience. These are some of the unforgettable moments that you carry away from an Alaska cruise!
Alaska cruises sail through the protected waterways of the Inside Passage, docking at quaint picturesque towns for encounters with the local communities. An Alaska cruise gets you up-close with massive glaciers and ice carved fjords. It is a wonderful opportunity to see some of the most incredible wildlife and birdlife endemic only to Alaska.
What’s more, an Alaska cruise also unleashes your inner ninja. The shutterbug in you is likely to go into overdrive and you end up uploading hundreds of photographs on your Instagram account.
You can do an Alaska cruise cheaply too!
It’s a myth that an Alaska cruise comes pricey. Whether you are a cruising neophyte or a seasoned cruiser, you can still visit this end of the world with some savvy research and planning.
Alaska cruises sail the two classic routes – Inside Passage and the Cross-Gulf of Alaska. The Inside Passage Alaska cruises are round-trip cruises done in 4-7 days from Vancouver or Seattle, typically costing $499-$580 upwards for an interior cabin double occupancy. The Gulf of Alaska cruises are longer 14-day cruises often leaving from Anchorage (factor in extra flight fares) with a combination of sea and land tours, costing $1000-1600 upwards.
You can also take your pick of itineraries from a number of Cruise Lines, Cruise Ships, Package options, and a combination of on-board and offshore excursions to suit your budget. While the larger ships are high on luxury offerings with a great range of facilities, they do not sail into narrow passages or modify schedule and speed for wildlife spotting or iceberg breaking. However, they offer a range of excursions that are add-ons beyond your cruise price.
A mid-size ship offers you the best deal as it has better access to narrow waterways and is cheaper, starting from $448. Another way to save money is to avoid the peak cruising time and book during the shoulder months of April and late September. I would opt for September, as it is the unveiling of the Borealis.
So you can still do an Alaska cruise on a lean budget. If you have that extra money, splurge on offshore excursions to glaciers. An upgrade to balcony stateroom adds that extra fizz as you can take in the mind blowing landscape and icy mountain walls while you sip your wine on the balcony.
If you are still wondering whether an Alaska cruise is worth taking, here are some more reasons why.
Experience the once-in-a-lifetime phenomenon of the Northern Lights
If seeing the Northern Lights has been on your bucket-list, then a September Alaska cruise is the best time to combine cruising with a glimpse of the northern lights. Fairbanks in Alaska, is considered the best location for good viewing. You may want to book a September Norwegian Cruise Line tour to witness the miracle of the Aurora Borealis, besides finding end season cost savings too!
Sea Food unlimited
Where else can you have your fill of salmon dishes? Or wild king crab, halibut and shrimp, done up in unique myriad ways? You also get to taste some of the finest Alaska beers and local cuisine at the ports of call. Princess Cruise has a “Cook My Catch” choice that allows you to catch during your own fish and have it cooked served to you on-board.
Unique Alaskan excursions - Glacier walks, Heli rides, Airboat tours, Whale watching, Photography and Fishing safaris
The Glacier Bay is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the only way to see it is taking an Alaska cruise.
Most cruises offer a wide choice of offshore excursions. Helicopter rides take you to the Mendenhall or Taku Glacier, offering you spectacular aerial views and the “high” of walking on a vast expanse of isolated glacier.
If you thought an Alaska cruise is likely to freeze you out, think again! The weather can actually get really hot during the day. If you are lucky to have continuous sunny weather, expect to have a 50-60 range of temperature, which is fairly warm. The lowest temperatures are in the 20's, although it gets cooler as you move towards September.
Spectacular Alaskan wildlife
An Alaska cruise is great for whale watching as the Humpback whales visit the Glacier Bay every summer. Your cruise ship is literally surrounded by wildlife. Apart from the pods of whales, you can expect to see sea lions, sea otters, puffins, orcas, harbor seals, and the Alaskan icon, the bald eagles. If you are lucky, you can have close encounters with bears and moose, although the experience may leave you unnerved!An Alaskan cruise is much more than ice, glaciers and whales. You witness up-close the effects of climate change as you face very hot days. Many passages are navigable because of rising temperatures. You see huge chunks of icebergs fall off before your eyes and float away, and understand how global warming is adding to the gradual rise of world ocean levels.
Close encounters with the Alaskan culture
Most of the ships include ports of call at Skagway, Juneau, and Ketchikan. These towns offer you an unfiltered glimpse into Alaskan heritage and culture.
To expect the unexpected
What do you think,
is a cruise to Alaska really worth taking?